Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

So how do we help the eastern Congo?

In her lucid opinion piece published in The New York Times last week, Séverine Autesserre argues that the international community has gotten it terribly wrong in the Congo. Drawing on an argument laid out in her popular 2010 book, The Trouble with the Congo, Autesserre says that this failure stems from our failure to understand the causes of violence. We have, she argues, for too long obsessed about the national and regional causes of the war, and neglected the local dynamics of conflict. She says about diplomats and UN officials:
They neglect to address the other main sources of violence: distinctively local conflicts over land, grassroots power, status and resources, like cattle, charcoal, timber, drugs and fees levied at checkpoints. Most violence in the Congo is not coordinated on a large scale. It is the product of conflicts among fragmented local militia, each trying to advance its own agenda at the village or district level. Those then percolate and expand. (My emphasis)
While she is right to emphasize the local dynamics of conflict, her argument is flawed. She falls victim of her own critique: she, too, ends up being overly reductive, failing to account for the different kinds of armed actors, each with its unique underlying dynamic, in the eastern Congo. In fact, reading her op-ed, one might think that the reason for the uptick in violence in the Kivus this year is due to land conflicts and struggles for power at the village level.

But the main protagonists since the beginning of the transition in 2003 have not been fragmented local militia with parochial concerns, but rather armed groups that are tightly linked to regional political and business elites, such as the CNDP, PARECO, and, most recently, the M23. It is these groups that have set the tone and the terms for the conflict that has percolated until today; in this sense, Autesserre's article is strikingly anachronistic, published the same week the controversy over Rwandan support to the M23 came to a head at the UN Security Council.

Take the CNDP, for example, which has been the first mover of the main conflict that has simmered in the Kivus since 2003. The group did not emerge at the grassroots level due to land conflict, and the group has few links to customary authorities. Rather, it emerged as an elite-led response to the politics of the peace deal that reunited the country. 

When the RCD joined the transitional government in 2003, it stood little chance of survival. It was internally divided and was unlikely to garner many votes in the 2006 elections. The stakes were high: Much of Goma’s elite had prospered thanks to the patronage and protection of the RCD and Rwanda. To safeguard these interests, the CNDP was formed by senior members of the RCD military, in coordination with officials in Kigali and Goma. In response to the CNDP, over twenty other armed groups sprang up, many linked to political elites, professing opposition (and often hatred) to the CNDP and hoping to benefit from demobilization programs.  

This is not to say that land and identity do not matter. The CNDP draws on inveterate fears of abuse within the rwandophone community of North Kivu; other armed groups in Masisi, which mobilized in response to the CNDP, are indeed outraged by historical discrimination and the power of large landowners. But the level of analysis is misplaced: it is not customary chiefs and peasants who are the CNDP's driving constituency, but rather political and military elites.

This is not true for all groups. Some Mai-Mai groups, for example, have more tenuous links to elite networks, and are more rooted in the realities of rural life, with its land pressures, poverty and histories of communal violence. Even here, however, Autesserre's recommendation to increase funding for NGOs like Life and Peace Institute (LPI) and Action pour la Paix et la Concorde (APC) may be off-mark. Groups like the Tsheka Mai-Mai have been tightly linked since their creation to the military and political networks in the Kivus. Tsheka himself, for example, is well-known to have close to with Congolese army officers in Goma - first Etienne Bindu, later Bosco Ntaganda - and is probably unlikely to be swayed by local community leaders in Walikale, most of whom have disavowed him.

Local reconciliation work is only likely to be successful if those being reconciled can sway the armed actors; LPI and APC - both good, solid organizations - have carried out valuable such work in Kalehe, for example. However, many groups that emerged due to local grievances have since taken on interests of their own and become integrated into regional business and political networks. In these cases, local land tribunals and reconciliation workshops may have little impact.

Autesserre also does not mention the hundreds of millions of dollars that have gone into precisely the kinds of programs she is pushing for. The government-led STAREC program, which has received hundreds of millions of dollars from donors, is supposed to re-establish state authority, boost local infrastructures and consolidate the gains of the various peace deals. For example, UN-Habitat has received over $8 million to set up land mediation committees to address land conflict at the local level. Yes, STAREC has been caught up in controversy and has desperately lacked strategic vision (see here, for example) and government ownership - but it may be worthwhile trying to figure out why this effort has failed before asking, as she does, for MONUSCO's mandate to be redrawn to support grassroots projects dealing with local conflicts.

I certainly sympathize with Autesserre's complaint that, all too often, we see the violence in the Congo through the lens of sexual violence and conflict minerals. And I am sure we can do more to tackle land tenure problems and conflicts over local power. But I worry that she, too, has adopted her own particular lens, one that neglects the complex power base of armed groups, and that does not address the various, often flawed, efforts undertaken by donors and the Congolese government.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more.

Many armed groups lost popular support because of their endless opposition at integration as seen only as a matter of money and personal power. Yakutumba is of these examples. Similarly during Amani Leo for different reasons people in the hauts Plateaux reduced their support at FRF because tired of seeing the children of minembwe dying without results.
And the rémanents of MM groups in uvira are nothing but a group of bandits with little or nothing political grievances at local level.

Probably only raia mutomboki respond to a certain extent at need of protection from the population. but the problem their dealing eith, FDLR, doesn't inscribe in the logic adopted in the NY article.

Land and identity conflicts are fueled by ambitious leader for personal enrichment. How is it possible that in such a big country still persists land problems?

dvplaza said...


Statements like "Most of the violence in Congo is not coordinated on a large scale. It is the product of conflicts among fragmented local militias, each trying to advance its own agenda at the village or district level. Those then percolate and expand." make me think that Autessere's own understanding of the roots of violence in Congo are deeply flawed. If anything, the large-scale violence has filtered down into some grassroots conflict - not the other way around.

Yes, a bottom up approach is worth considering in terms of helping Congo. But ultimately there are deeply seeded evils in this country's leadership and upper echelons that remain un-addressed.

It is so true that we tend to look through the conflict in Congo through our own lens, be it of sexual violence, conflict minerals, village conflict of UN ineptitude.

Perhaps the best way we can help Eastern Congo right now, is to remove our respective lenses and take a look at the conflict outside of our own biases and personal convictions.

I'm guessing there will be a few aid-workers and analysts will fundamentally disagree with Autesserre's posits.

Judith said...

Indeed, the importance of the national and regional dimensions of armed group mobilization are strangely absent in Autesserre’s analysis. She also fails to differentiate between various contexts and different armed groups (AG), which may all have their own dynamics and are produced by different factors, with varying degrees of causal weight. As Jason rightly points out, whereas regional or national politicians, military leaders and businessmen are crucial for sustaining some AG, others more fully draw upon local antagonisms and resources. But even in that case, one could argue that the absence of non-violent mechanisms for channeling local conflicts, or the existence of conflict-generating institutional arrangements of local governance (like customary chiefdom, the legal pluralism regulating access to land and justice, etc), are ultimately deeply influenced by national policies.

Having studied in-depth a variety of armed groups in the Fizi/Uvira and Itombwe regions, I have clearly seen that the organizational, financial, political (and even moral) support of provincial, national and regional actors is crucial in sustaining armed groups that have a level of organization and influence going beyond the mere village/groupement level.

To just mention two examples: just at a time local support for Yakutumba in Fizi appeared to be on the wane in the course of 2010, he concluded a crucial alliance with Burundian actors linked to the FNL, which gave increased access to supply and recruitment networks operating out of Tanzania. Concerning the FRF, one of the reasons for their integration into the Congolese military in 2011 (aside from war-tiredness of the Banyamulenge population) was pressure from the Rwandan government on Congo, as they feared the FRF would link up with the Kayumba/Karegeya dissident duo. This illustrates how the development of both these groups has always been deeply connected to regional and national developments; certainly, they strongly draw upon local grievances (notably ethnically defined conflicts over positions of local authority, administrative boundaries, and transhumance), and these are an important part of their (rhetorical) strategies of mobilization and local recruitment. However, these grievances fail to explain their access to military supplies, regional trade, smuggling and recruitment networks and diaspora populations: all important for maintaining a larger-scale military organization for a longer period of time.

Autesserre also strangely overlooks the crucial role of the Congolese military in the (re) production of armed groups. Not only has the ongoing integration of armed groups into the military given important incentives to continue to mobilize (in the hope of obtaining better ranks and positions) , the FARDC is also the most important source of supply for arms and ammunitions to AG. This too, is partly a matter of national-level policy. The same applies to the FDLR, which we can best consider a “conflict-multiplier”, (or a contributing factor), instead of a cause. In the past, the FDLR have provided important logistical and operational support to a number of smaller-scale armed groups (for example the Mai Mai Aoci and Mulumba in Itombwe), which would otherwise have had a much smaller military impact. Supplies and support from these larger-scale forces (FARDC and FDLR) are sometimes crucial in transforming non-violent conflict to open clashes, and ad-hoc bands into full-time operating groups.

Auttessere’s emphasis on local causes and solutions therefore appears reductionist. Maybe this is due to the fact that her research has focused primarily on the perceptions and policies of international actors in the Congo, and not on conflict dynamics themselves. Anyone drawing conclusions on what produces armed groups and feeds local violence should perhaps first study these phenomena extensively and first-hand themselves.

Anonymous said...

If anything, Séverine Autesserre's article has the merit of at least elucidating the naivety or complacency of the IC in trying to craft a single, overarching and extraordinary narrative to affix to the crisis in the east of DRC. Hence all the epiphenomena and byproducts that characterize conflicts like these, such as rape or community enmity, were isolated and amplified to hastily explain, or rather describe the conflict.

I leave to you Researchers who rigorously study this stuff to help us understand. From my layman observation and using the in-the-news M23 militia as an archetype, I can identify two traits that characterize the armed groups:
(1) There seems to be a clear disconnect between them (elite) and the community they pretend to represent. For instance in Kichanga last month or so, Tutsi population ran away from the M23 militia (their supposed protectors) to seek protection from FARDC (their alleged ruthless torturers).
(2) It is practically impossible not to conclude that the sole or ultimate motivation of the M23 militia is selfish individual business and military interests of its elite, of the regional and int’l actors. It is disappointingly difficult to find a single instance where the concerns of the Tutsi community are clearly spelt out, yet we all know too well about alleged ill-treatment in the army, lack of promotion in FARDC, salaries, refusal to be redeployed in other provinces…

I therefore think that the real help, diplomatic or military, from the IC in the east of DRC should consist in assisting Congolese to eradicate if not crush these militias, starting with the most two dangerous M23 and FDLR. Because from what we have seen in the last 3 months, this conflict can indeed be stopped in 6 months with a bit of sincerity and humanity from all.


Anonymous said...

I think the role of helping congolese falls to MONUSCO. They eat 2bn dollars a year for what? Others who want to form NGOs, fine. You are eating your tax payers money and not helping the poor souls.

David Aronson said...

Well to quote from the Queen of Hearts, You are both right and you shall both have prizes.
It's clear that the CNDP/M23 was and is a trans-border phenomenon, a mutually beneficial relationship among co-ethnic elites on both sides of the border. The relationship gave Rwandan business and military elites preferential access to Congo's mineral wealth (helped along by DF1502, which barred legitimate business from purchasing minerals and turned those same elites into monopsonists); it gave N. Kivu Rwandaphones a degree of political security and economic supremacy in a place where their rights had traditionally been tenuous. But I'm not sure that it's fair to say that the CNDP/M23 are merely an economic and political elite, unattached to the larger BanyaRwanda population of the region. There are deep fissures between the Banyarwanda and the so-called indigenes; those conflicts need to be addressed if there is to be a durable peace in the region, even if the link between the M23 and their Rwandan brethren is somehow broken. At the moment, this may seem like just another fight among elites; it could very easily devolve into a fight between peoples.

Anonymous said...

@ Ano. at JUNE 26, 2012 11:17 AM
In fact I do agree with u fully. What I am saying in the first paragraph is that the lady’s article is an illustration of the naivety of the IC to concoct a convenient meta-narrative about the east DRC conflict. Bluntly put, the lady came up with yet another “novel theory” of her own that would explain once and for all the crisis in the east of DRC, maybe with funds raising in mind. At least she gave it a go.


Anonymous said...

@ Ano. at JUNE 26, 2012 11:17 AM
In fact I do agree with u fully. What I am saying in the first paragraph is that the lady’s article is an illustration of the naivety of the IC to concoct a convenient meta-narrative about the east DRC conflict. Bluntly put, the lady came up with yet another “novel theory” of her own that would explain once and for all the crisis in the east of DRC, maybe with funds raising in mind. At least she gave it a go.


Anonymous said...

Since crashing the FDLR is obviously not possible and since Rwanda will always use the FDLR as a pretext for further involvement in DRC affairs, can someone suggest a different approach to the FDLR issue? I am yet to read any brilliant analysis of the FDLR and unique approach on how to deal with them?

Anonymous said...

Solution to e congo crisis.
Genesis: When governor of Kivus served banyamulenge PI in 1996. ADFL was born and they marched to Kinshasa. Problems of identity persist. You say Banyamulenge of south and Bagogwe of north are not congolese! When actually they are. If the language is a factor, consider this: Bafulelo speak broken kinyarwanda, Bashi speak broken kinyarwanda infact all east speak kinyarwanda! Yet tutsi are singled out. Give them peace, allow them to graze their cattle, leave them alone you wont hear Bosco, Nkunda, etc.

Jason Stearns said...

@David and @Judith - Thanks for the comments. I would be the last person to say that land, identity and local conflicts over power do not matter. They obviously do. But in order to stabilize the province, we will need to figure out how to disentangle the different, multiple forces behind these armed groups. This will probably mean in the short term addressing the meta-cleavages that involve political elites, so as to create a space in which meaningful reconciliation work can be done. I don't think it makes sense to start talking about land reform and reconciliation when we are on the verge of a new escalation in the conflict. For the long-term stability of the East, however, we definitely need to start thinking about land reform, reconciliation work, and local administrative reform. The trick is figuring out how all the pieces of this multi-layered puzzle fit together, and which Jenga block you remove without the whole tower falling down.

Anonymous said...

What about refugees .... keep in mind that one of grievances of M23 is the return of their beloved parent, brothers and sisters who have spends more than 15 years as refugees in Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. So to stabilize the Eastern DRC this question should be addressed asap as well as the FDLR threat.The problem of lands it's not really an issues DRC has 2, 345, 000 square kilometer.Again remove your glasses and look on the roots of the problems

Anonymous said...

The root of the problem is in Rwanda. This problem is a tribal war. Solve legitimacy in Kigali, have a hutu/tutsi dialogue like the one that took place in burundi and by that you solve the fdlr issue.

With a stable Rwanda, 3/4 of the eastern DRC problem is solved. After that solved re-establish justice. How come Bosto ntaganda born in rwanda from not congolese parent has become congolese? When did he became congolese. This is the case of many of the tutsi leaders in m23/cndp militias. They are using the broad tutsi cause to infiltrate DRC. There are true congolese tutsi and hutu, like there are congolese bemba and zambian bemba. James kabarebe was presented like congolese when hebwas chief of staff of congolese army during kabila father regime. Today the whole congolese community has seen that he was indeed rwandese, and continue to plot destabilization against congo.

Mistrust from the tutsi in congo comes from that, they claim to be congolese when they want and have no ties to congo. In fact they want collective nationality. Rwanda only knows who is tutsi congolese but DRC has just to accept without checking background. When congo try to check then it becomes a state that discriminate against its population and blabla. There is a law on nationality. As bad as it is, it should be respected there is no massive naturalization existing for a whole tribe.

Anonymous said...


This conflict is a racial and tribal conflict. even Mishikwabo tend to agree for her, the problem is that the tutsi cannot live peacefully in Congo without fear and that FDLR Hutu are menacing both tutsi in congo and in Rwanda.

From my perspective, when I use the "Why principle" asking why this is happening again and again, I comes to this: the problem is that the Tutsi dominated Rwanda regime wants to dominate eastern DRC and for that it uses all excuses available. I also get to the conclusion that the tutsi community in DRC, at least part of it, behave itself as a "transnational entity" and consider Rwanda as the capital of their "entity".... for me that means that they use their Congolese or Rwandese nationality as accessory but feel belonging to something that is greater. For them all lands located in Rwanda and Eastern Kivu belong to them and they are meant to rule on this land and its inhabitants.

Viewed under this prism, integrating CNDP/M23 into army in keeping their chain of command wont solve anything, as it has been viewed, as they will maintain their parallel chain reporting to Kigali.

Under this prism, giving them nationality wont solve the problem either as they will always behave as trojan horses, they wont feel any loyalty to the state of Congo but only to their brothers.

Also reconciliation with FDLR will never work as it would mean integrating in the political game representative of 70% of the population therefore losing control.
They need FDLR in congo, and they need FDLR killing in Congo so that they have an excuse for not negotiating with them and invading/meddling in Congo affair. That explain Bosco Ntaganda arming some FDLR faction (cfr GoE rapport).

And under this prism Mai Mai movement that is a resistance movement (at least for some of them) against Tutsi ruling will never end either. And that is why it is supported by some congolese leaders for whom the Mai Mai are the only way to keep their pride against perceived tutsi domination.

Under my prism,resources are just a mean to finance and maintain domination. We do not wage war for resources, we wage war for domination and resources allow us to have money to maintain our domination. Losing resources means losing finance and clout thus it cannot be tolerated. That is why M23/CNDP cannot accept to leave East DRC.
Rwanda by itself does not have the resources to maintain tutsi domination. The money that they receive for their budget has to be well managed so that they remain the good students and money to fund rebellion has to come from somewhere.... Some Tusti elite can personally benefit from exploiting DRC resources, but mainly this exploitation is for the cause.

Having reconciliation meetings between communities of Kivus won't work because one community and this community is a minority, is responsible of massacre and is dominating militarily all the others. It becomes a question of pride. In Rusthuru Someone told me: "We feel like our neigbour broke into our houses, stole our money, raped our wives and daughters in front of us, torched our houses and now the same neigbour is asking us to thank him....". I have also heard: " 400 000 Tutsi dead during genocide all the world feel sorry and 5 millions Congolese deads mostly because of tutsi militias and nobody look at us".

The westerner through their after genocide guilt have fueled a huge racial war. They don't understand it now because they don't want to accept that this war in eastern DRC is a war of domination of a previously persecuted racial group over all the others group of the regions. They have let Hutu being killed like dogs in DRC forest, they have let Congolese being killed by million at the hands of tusti commanders (interesting that UN human rights commission has labeled M23 tutsi leader as the worse war crime offenders of all time for massacre dating back 2008...: )

Anonymous said...


I don't mean that the whole tutsi community is bad and has dreams of dominating the world, I see them as germans population and hitler during WWII era. Unfortunately Rwanda leaders do have domination dream and all their deeds in the last 15 years is a proof of that.
The tutsi civil society should start questioning a policy made in their behalf. Some congolese tutsis have started doing this, realizing that their integration to the congolese nation is jeopardized by the war monger among their community.

For me a model for long lasting peace is Burundi, I have been in Burundi and the cohabitation Hutu/tutsi is a lot more appeased compared to Rwanda. It is not perfect but there, hutu are fighting between themselves (current president against former ally Agathon Rwasa) and the tutsi are playing the kind of mediator role (not really but kind of...).

Spend some time at thinking about this conflict like me, and I am sure it will open some paths in your mind. I am just affraid that All of this will end in a huge boold bath, if the international community does not end this spiral.

Stabilization and peace reunion have to take places in Kigali and not in Kivu hills

Rich said...

Jason -

Ref # "I would be the last person to say that land, identity and local conflicts over power do not matter. They obviously do. But in order to stabilize the province, we will need to figure out how to disentangle the different, multiple forces behind these armed groups."

This is a sound assessment and one of the things we need to do is to ensure that warring factions are effectively denied access to the means of increasing/sustaining their fighting capabilities. However, how do you go about to materialise this if some actors are allowed to violate arms embargo and sanctions regimes?

I say this based on the evidence contained in the GeO's interim report (the annex or addendum) which among other things says the following:

"Since the outset of its current mandate, the Group [of Experts] has gathered evidence of arms embargo and sanctions regime violations committed by the Rwandan Government. These violations consist of the provision of material and financial support to armed groups operation in the eastern DRC, including the recently established M23, in contravention of paragraph 1 of Security Council resolution 1807. The arms embargo and sanctions regimes violations include the following:

*Direct assistance in the creation of M23 through the transport of weapons and soldiers through Rwandan territory;

*Recruitment of Rwandan youth and demobilized ex-combatants as well as Congolese refugees for M23;

*Provision of weapons and ammunition to M23;

*Mobilization and lobbying of Congolese political and financial leaders for the benefit of M23;

*Direct Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) interventions into Congolese territory to reinforce M23;

*Support to several other armed groups as well as FARDC mutinies in the eastern Congo;

*Violation of the assets freeze and travel ban through supporting sanctioned individuals."


As long as FARDC will be busy/distracted dealing with ‘powerful forces’ (rcd, cndp, m23, rdf) it will never have the time to do its homework, rebuild/restructure itself and gain the needed efficiency to re-establish law and order and hence earn the loyalty of all the communities and actors in the region. That perception of impunity felt by some actors must be challenged and brought to an end.

I think we need to keep on pushing for the reform, training of the security sector in DRC and in parallel to that, sanctions must be applied to whoever violates paragraph 1 of Security Council resolution 1807. That will be the only framework upon which all the reconciliation and peace building works can be borne.


blaise said...

500 cops forgotten in Mbuji mayi, soldiers unpaid for months, ghost workers in the administration, the quietest president in the world(beat Kim jong Un),etc : how are we supposed to win this war?
Even LeRoy is complaining by our lack of organization.

blaise said...

At least something good here. I love the INPP for it's hands on training.

Anonymous said...

Where can we get the addendum, does someone knows where ?

The excerpt from Foreign Policy (thank you Rich) is going a lot further than I thought :

In an attempt to solve the crisis which this Rwandan support to armed groups had exacerbated, the governments of the DRC and Rwanda have held a series of high-level bilateral meetings since early April 2012. During these discussions, Rwandan officials have insisted on impunity for their armed group and mutineer allies, including ex-CNDP General Bosco Ntaganda, and the deployment of additional RDF (Rwanda Defense Forces) units to the Kivus to conduct large-scale operations against the FDLR. The latter request has been repeatedly made despite the fact that:
a) the RDF halted its unilateral initiatives to weaken the FDLR in late February;

b) RDF Special Forces have already been deployed officially in Rutshuru territory for over a year;

c) RDF operational units are periodically reinforcing the M23 on the battlefield against the Congolese army;

d) M23 is directly and indirectly allied with several FDLR splinter groups;

and e) the RDF is remobilizing previously repatriated FDLR to boost the ranks of M23.


WaooooW !!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

that's what is called Proxy War! Use Northern alliance to fight Taliban to rid America of Al-Qaeda threat!
RDF use M23 to fight FADC to rid Rwanda of FDLR threat!
Security concerns cannot be swept under carpet.

Anonymous said...

so, mister K and Mss L, what comment, if any without ridiculing yourself can you offer?

Rich said...

Anon JUNE 27, 2012 7:53 AM -

Ref # "that's what is called Proxy War! Use Northern alliance to fight Taliban to rid America of Al-Qaeda threat!
RDF use M23 to fight FADC to rid Rwanda of FDLR threat!
Security concerns cannot be swept under carpet."

At least America is not HYPOCRITICAL about it. Further more, America don't use donors' money, nor do they exploit guilt feeling to wage those wars.

You've got it wrong the time to tame down your petty triumphalism is long overdue.


Anonymous said...

oh, if the fdlr is the real threat,than the rdf is really incompetent cause still they can't "get rid" of them, more over the rdf is weak they need former fdlr to attack and combat the fdlr. really, and does this means the usa has a war going on in the drc? is that an aknowledgement of the support Kagame has.
to cut the crap, it has long been overdue but the rwandese should deal with their problems in rwanda, and kagame should apply what he tells the drc:talk with rebels etc. that is, is'nt the rdf a rebel group also, cause how many Hutu are having senior postions inside the rdf? anyway, the truth remains the truth wether you believe it or not, lokuta eyaka na ascenceur etc etc

Anonymous said...

RDF cant talk with FDLR because are genocidaires! FADC can talk with M23 b'se have genuine cause. Why cant FADC flush out FDLR and Kagame is left with no reason to have interests in you guys? When you bring maggots in your house, prepare for the visit of a lizard

Anonymous said...

Blaise said...
“500 cops forgotten in Mbuji mayi, soldiers unpaid for months, ghost workers in the administration, the quietest president in the world(beat Kim jong Un),etc : how are we supposed to win this war?Even LeRoy is complaining by our lack of organization.”


I am sorry to go back to something that I have said many times before. As long as JK is the
head of state in the DRC don’t expect anything different for what is happening in the kivus
(or on any other subject in the DRC as a matter of fact). What is happening with M23 is the sequel of the same horror movie that has been playing over and over for the past 15 years with basically the same actors. JK is a product of the FPR/AFDL and was molded by James Kabarebe, who we were told was a DRC citizen and who was the chief of the DRC Armed Forces for one year under Mzee.

I lifted these lines in French from an article by Christopher Rigaud titled:
« Kabila dans le piège rwandais » 27 juin, 2012 :

… le lien très fort du président Kabila avec le ministre rwandais de la défense, James Kabarebe. Le militaire rwandais a en effet formé le jeune Joseph Kabila « aux arts de la guerre » pendant la chute du régime Mobutu en 1997. Kabila doit tout à Kabarebe… et Kabarebe connaît tout de Kabila…

I am again sorry to say that I do not believe that JK can fix the situation in the Kivus
to the satisfaction of the DRC citizens who feel violated year after year by what Rwanda
has been allowed to get away with in the Kivus with the help of JK and his cronies (mixage, brassage, integration…). This help, has allowed for the complete infiltration of the DRC armed forces by officers and soldiers from Rwanda. Is this to the advantage of the DRC as nation ??? I said it before JK has been in power for more than 10 years this is a very long time, enough time to organize, train, equip, pay and moralize an army. The DRC is a big country; this army could have been built from scratch some where in the Bas-Congo, Katanga, Equateur…In my eyes the will to create this new and strong army was never there(as is the will to govern for the betterment of the DRC Citizens). It was and still is intentional to keep the Armed Forces of the DRC weak. Today after more than 10 years of JK rule, some people are still talking about trying to restructure the Armed Forces of the DRC. The Armed Forces were never restructured or build from scratch because the ones ruling the DRC have never wanted a strong Armed Forces.

The relationship between JK and the elite in power in Rwanda is way too cozy for him to go against the will of his former comrades in arms (semper fidelis) in the FRP/AFDL as he owes everything to these comrades who know every thing about him. We can never win this war because the Trojan horse has been at work.


Firou said...

There is no State called Congo but for international conventions and a permanent peacekeeping force which gives the illusion. A state should be able to at the bare minimum maintain the integrity of its borders and protect its citizens. Had it been any other time, Eastern Congo would have already been subsumed by Rwanda and it is not difficult to argue that its inhabitants would have been much better off. Kinshasa has no power outside the limits of its own periphery and will not in the foreseeable future. international intervention and maintaining the current policies are like giving an ailing man a very low dose of antibiotics -- never curing him, yet weakening him in the process.

Anonymous said...

Dissecting the issues that plague the DRC seems to be a roundabout argument. Autesserre argues that reducing the plight of the DRC into three simple over arching categories other, just as noteworthy, problems get lost between the cracks. BUT... aren't we just as guilty of compartmentalizing the conflict into easy bite size pieces? I agree with dvplaza's comment that we look at the conflicts through our lenses and biases, but how do we shake them? is there truly a way to look at the conflicts and issues without bias?

Jason, I agree with your comment that Autesserre is flawed by her own definition but what is the alternative?

Anonymous said...

The nation of Congo exists and is well alive. Looting or plundering the Congo may give the illusion of owning whole or parts of it but it's only an illusion. Congo belongs to Congolese people and not or never will it belong to Rwanda. Rwanda should first reconcile its own children hutus and tutsis instead of exporting hatred and chaos in the region.

Rich said...

Firou -

Can you help please?

So when you are travelling back into "other time", you decide to change time and leave the other variables unchanged? In other words, rwanda will be this powerful nation even back in the time when, for instance, Habyarimana was president or when the DRC provided asylum, shelter, education, health care, decent jobs to millions of rwandans at the expense of Congolese tax payers, rwanda would still 'subsume eastern Congo and its inhabitants would have been much better off?

In, my opinion, what needs great dose of antibiotic is your divisionist rhetoric. rwanda MUST engage a frank reconciliation and open up its political sphere to all communities. Otherwise, you are in for a long and sad cycle producing 'triumphant victims'.

I'm sorry but I think your naive arrogance is pushing you to sometimes write nonsense.


Firou said...

Rich - here is what I mean ( and thank you for taking the time to read and respond. this is a situation which I have been following and I find troubling and I welcome an exchange on it. I come from a part of the world which is always subject to foreign meddling - Iran ). I try to transpose the struggle in africa to pre-westphalian world in Europe. wars continued and nations emerged based on the borders that each nation could defend, no more, no less. If your argument is that Rwanda is the source of Congo's ailments, and that without it, DRC would be intact, and its "taxpayers" would be funding their own social programs, I am not sure I agree. What is happening in Eastern Congo is a struggle for the strongest to overcome. There is no formal taxation, no State, and Congolese authorities are perfectly able to exploit their own people. Rwanda is just the stronger element at this point in time and has emerged as the main power broker. Without Rwanda, you would still have the struggles until another strong man emerges and can subdue the situation. International efforts are by and large interrupting this process thereby prolonging it and more innocents are being killed. Kinshasa will not be able to exert authority and the international community is just in very basic peacekeeping mode. The U.N. budget is just over a billion a year, around 15,000 troops. it has taken the United States almost 10 years with 150,000 very well trained american troops and almost 2 billion WEEKLY military expenditure to subdue the situation in Iraq, and still there are daily bombings. What I am saying may be politically incorrect in a day and age where borders are nominally sovereign, but it is not nonsense. think about it. I do welcome a response.

Congoman said...

A strong FARDC is the only solution to all this problems ,there is no ethnic tensions in the KIVUS,the M23 and CNDP are all members of the Rwandan army and their mission is to plunder the DRC, the so called FDLR are in South KIVU terroring the population and fighting to Control mining cites.a strong FARDC and a more democratic regime in Rwanda is the only thing that will bring lasting peace and prosperity to this region.

Rich said...

Firou -

First I would like to say sorry if I mistook you for a pro-kagame.

That said, I agree that at this particular time rwanda seems to be the 'power broker' etc... but the fact of the matter is, at this particular time, rwanda will also struggle to control that part of the world even if it was to take it from Kinshasa by force. If rwanda is in peace, I don't think that depends on rwandan desire alone. Should other actors in DRC with its backers and indeed other unhappy rwandans decide to take war to rwanda, that country will not enjoy the apparent peace it is enjoying now and only God knows what the final outcome will be.

So, let's not rush into conclusions thinking that peace in rwanda or perceived supremacy of rwanda now is sustainable in the long run since this is based on a very shaky ground. We've seen much more sophisticated dictatorships and we all know how they ended.

I don't pretend to say removing the rwandan problem from the DRC equation will somehow make the DRC a better place. What is sure is that, removing rwanda from the equation, will mean one problem less out of the many other problems facing the DRC. Every little counts.

I stand by the argument that DRC is not to be blamed because rwanda has decided to behave unscrupulousely on its soil. Yes the Congolese have their share of responsibility regarding other issues but the aggression from rwanda must stop because it is wrong and endangering the many lives.

Telling Congolese not to complain about rwandan meddling in its affairs is like blaming a vulnerable woman who has been RAPED.


Congoman said...

You need to look at the history of your own Country (IRAN)and its neighbor ( IRAQ)beginning from the western backed SHAH's dictatorship to the current situation before you make your conclusion about the situation in the DRC.there is similarity between the invasion of Iran by the minority Suni led Dictatorship of SADAM HUSSEIN and the invasion of the DR CONGO by the minority led tutsi dictatorship of PAUL KAGAME .the actions of the Tutsi led dictatorship of Rwandan PAUL KAGAME in the great lakes region is very similar to the actions of the minority SUNI led dictatorship of SADAM HUSSEIN in your region. before you start making conclusions about the DRC you shall look back at your own region . just like you had the SHAH in iran, we had MOBUTU in the DRC and what followed after the fall of the SHAH and the Revolution in your country is almost similar to what followed after the fall of the western backed dictatorship of MOBUTU SESE SEKO in our country.just like SADAM HUSSEIN and his suni minority ambitions in your region did not succeed i also believe that KAGAME and his manority tutsi ambitions of dominance in our region are doomed .Sadam Hussein did not achieave greatness in your region and did not succed in his plans of annexing part of Iran or Koweit to IRAQ, and Kagame will never achieve his ambitions of annexing part of CONGO to Rwanda or his ambition of Tutsi dominance in our region. just like SADAM ,Kagame's dictatorship is doomed.despite all its problems i believe that your country(IRAN) is rising back and despite all its problems i believe that we are now slowly witnessing the rise of the DRC and the fall of the minority TUTSI led dictatorship of PAUL KAGAME.

Anonymous said...

I just found another critical review of Autesserre's stuff from professor Patience Kabamba. He raises a number of issues like:

The impression in the book is that Congolese are powerless to solve this conflict at the local as well as the national level. Outside intervention seems absolutely needed. This may be the first flaw of this book: an uncritical posing that Congolese fate is in the hands of outside players.

check it out:

Anonymous said...

Ref. Firou “I try to transpose the struggle in Africa to pre-Westphalian world in Europe. Wars continued and nations emerged based on the borders that each nation could defend, no more, no less.”

Ref. Bismarck “In my eyes the will to create this new and strong army [FARDC] was never there. It was and still is intentional [of J.K.] to keep the Armed Forces of the DRC weak.”

Putting the two statements together, the image springing to mind is one of a Congolese Early Modern state-formation process, in which the ruler (here J.K.) has an interest in an armed force strong enough to support his regime, but not strong enough to help building a strong institutionalised bureaucratic state, which would be a precondition for the rule of law. Rule of Law, however, is the natural enemy of an Early Modern prince. To strengthen the armed forces/civilian bureaucracy/participatory structures, and in this course the state, would deprive the prince of his unlimited, and unaccountable, control. One cannot help a government that does not want to be helped. Are there any leaders in the country who genuinely want a strong state?

Anonymous said...

I do not know who want to add a land twist, but obviously it is not. Every group knows its boundaries since the begining of time. The land problem, at times, comes from Kinshasa when the government sold mining rights to companies without local consent. Why land was not a problem 15years ago and all of a sudden it is. The density in Kivu is still low to sustain the people. Is it the case across the border? Most congolese, including myself, strongly believe that once these FDLR go to their home country, we will deal with our usual problems. we have done and will always do. This is a Rwandan problem and must be dealt in Rwanda. The Congolese problem will be dealt in Congo. We will not arm any one in Rwanda. Lately, Kagame and his chronies have done more arm than good undermining blood relationships that we have across the borders. It is as clear as that. The Severine lady thinks to know more than the congolese, but all these "thinkers" have never understood the way we live in our communities because you have to be congolese and understand the bonds we have with the land and each-other. We do.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, some of these professors and others thesis never hits the point squared. Kabamba usualy gets it right. There are some mai-mai groups that fought for their communities without any outside intervention. The Congo army issue is directly linked with the person at the top. you can bring in all armies around the world to fight in Congo, they will most likely fail because the top maintains the chaos on the ground. That is why they and Kagame do not want the FDLR to go because the people on both sides will focus our attention on him and the chronies. Those who support Kagame do not understand that the more they keep a lid on Rwanda, the more the pressure intensifies in that country. Obviously the FDLR are telling their children where they are from and how they landed on DRC as well as what to do to reconquer their land the same way the tutsie did while in exile. We know our problems and have had fixes for them. The first condition is FDLR must go. Even if that so-called land-reform is done, they want to go back to their country and regain power. Can some of these non-congolese dig that? They must not keep us in bondage with this nonesense because it is not and never been our problem. No need to go around the bushes.

Anonymous said...

Jason, please do not take it bad. I personally am against the word "rwandophone". I also know that you did not create it. I am congolese from the kasai born in Kinshasa. This does not make me a "lubaphone" because I do not speak tshiluba. There are congolese of tusti and hutu descent as well congo (kingdom of congo), etc. The reason why I brought this litle matter to your attention is to avoid any outcasting of a part of my fellow congolese to avoid the stigma around the world of hutu means genocide and tutsi equate to victims as portrayed by the mainstreet media. We know that both groups have equally suffered from the genocides. I do not want my fellow congolese to fall deaper in that trap. Congolese from east of tutsi or hutu descend would do because they are first and for most congolese. Thanks for your and everyone understanding.

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I think SEVERINE is correct in her analysis because in the March 23 Peace Agreement between the DRC government and CNDP, such local organisations called COMITES LOCAUX PERMANENTS DE CONCILIATION in short CLPC were agreed upon to be implemented, and some initiatives were taken through STAREC/ CTPR in NORTH KIVU on UNDP funding in Beni territory and UNHCR's in NYIRAGONGO and MASISI territory with very little good achiements as the political authorities saw them very dangerous for their established system of ethnic manipulation to maintain themself in power.They killed STAREC!
But again where Jason is saying that politics at different levels do manipulate local comminuties is joining Severine's statement in her document when she says : "state-reconstruction programs have done little more than boost the capacity of the authoritarian central government and of administrative officials at all levels, to oppress the population".That 's exactly where the International Community felt in pouring millions of dollars in hands of A corrupt Kabila Administration. CONGO NEEDS A REAL REVOLUTION BY CONGOLESE FOR A NEW CORRUPTION FREE SOCIETY BUILT BOTTOM UP LIKE SEVERINE'S POINT.

Anonymous said...

C'est magnifique. Un jour je voudrais ecrir un post sur comment aider les anglais en chinois.

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